I’ve been overweight for more than a decade, so it’s amazing to me to think that anyone would describe me as ‘sleek’. My youngest son Max, who’s four, loves telling everyone that his daddy doesn't have a big belly any more, though – my kids are my biggest supporters.
I’d been overweight since my 20s and turned to food for comfort when my dad died from cancer in 2009. I’d get out of breath easily, even just climbing the stairs in our house, so I didn’t really play games or sports with the kids. I worried I was setting a bad example to them. I tried to put it to the back of my mind but when I saw the photo of me and my eldest son Ben, who was eight at the time, I knew I needed to do something. I was the heaviest I’d ever been and my confidence level was pretty much zero.
When my wife Kelly suggested that we went to Slimming World together, I was worried about being the only man – I thought I’d stick out like a sore thumb! Our Consultant, Michaela, was so welcoming, though, and within a couple of weeks my nerves had disappeared. I started to look forward to going to Slimming World each week – of course because I wanted to know how much weight I’d lost (I lost 3½lbs in my first week!), but also because I wanted to see how everyone else had got on.
When I'd followed diets in the past I’d always feel deprived, so even when I lost weight I wasn’t really happy. I could only ever keep them up for so long, and as soon as I went back to ‘normality’ I’d pile the weight back on. With Slimming World it was different.
We love home-made curries – they taste just like the takeaways we used to have, and now obviously they’re a lot healthier. Beef madras is my favourite – washed down with a bottle of lager, and followed by a couple of small chocolate bars for dessert.
I couldn’t believe the change in me in just a few months. I’m quite competitive and I loved collecting the awards that you get for every 7lbs you lose – they made me want to keep going for the next milestone. I’ve got all the certificates stuck to our fridge.
I’m a landscape gardener, and work is a lot easier now. I’ve joined a gym, too. Best of all, I can run around with the kids and play rugby with Ben at the park – I’ve gone from feeling like a failed parent to feeling like a proud dad.
I couldn’t believe it when I found out I’d won the title of Mr Sleek. Kelly was over the moon for me, especially because she knew she’d get to see me in a suit for the first time in years. Kelly’s lost more than 5st, too, so we’re both really proud of each other. It’s amazing to think we’ve lost nearly 10st between us in a year – and I’m so glad we’ve done it together.
I hope my story will show people, especially other men, that losing weight doesn’t have to be hard and it really is possible to make your New Year’s resolutions come true. This Christmas Eve, Ben and I recreated the photo that made me want to start losing weight. I looked like a different bloke – and I feel like one, too.
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.